Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Organising a community event - new simple form for telling the bureaucrats

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has succeeded in his quest to ban the reams of forms, high costs and red tape getting in the way of communities organising street parties and summer fetes.

From now on, instead of organisers being met with endless, confusing guidelines on food licences, road closures and insurance - councils can ask street party organisers to complete one simple form.

A cross government meeting held by Mr Pickles, with the Department for Transport, Department for Culture, Media and Sport as well as local government and community groups such as the Big Lunch and Streets Alive, has agreed this new approach.

Mr Pickles will make it clear in a new leaflet that there are no dusty, central laws restricting councils from taking a common sense approach to administrating events.

He will expel the myth that councils are required by law to advertise and charge extortionate fees for small road closures, potentially saving organisers thousands of pounds.

Previously, some small community groups were asked to apply for up to five separate licences and found it tricky to get upfront advice on what to do. They also found out about hidden costs right at the last minute, causing delays or cancellations to community events.

Communities Secretary Mr Pickles, said:

"Fetes, street parties and fairs should be fun, and everyone's energy needs to go into the fun part - not trawling through endless reams of guidance and dusty rules.

"I want to banish the myths around laws preventing people from putting on events.

"So there is still time for you to get together with your neighbours this summer. Your council may be able to help you close a road for a proper street party. If not, you can hold something in a garden or even the park. It's your community, so celebrate it."

For most small organised street parties that don't affect the wider road network, there is no requirement in law for local authorities to advertise proposed closures or carry out consultations. Neither are specific signs or other traffic management equipment required. Local authorities should act proportionately, wisely, and in the public interest - and highways law do not present any barriers to that.

Some easy, good practice guidance has been agreed in a new leaflet which will be published in September and be made available online and from town halls.

The 'Your guide to organising a street party or fete' form is available at: